We had a wonderful opportunity last Sunday to travel from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Sackville, New Brunswick to hear the newly called apostle Elder Renlund and the President of the Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Gong and their wives speak. I had only ever heard an apostle speak in person when Elder Oaks came to Sydney when I was 8 and at a Christmas devotional when I visited Utah when I was 18. Both felt like very distant memories and I was excited to be in the presence of an Apostle of the Lord again and gain all I could from the experience.
As a family we prepared as best we could for the 4 hour round trip. We packed snacks and lunch, activities for the kids for the conference and were positive and hopeful it would be a spiritual and positive experience. I suppose we were naive to think that snacks and activities would be enough to ensure a 1 and 4 year old would sit perfectly still and content for 2 hours. It really is hit and miss with my kids, sometimes they are are content to sit and play, other times they want to break the confines. Sunday was the latter. I think because Levi and I were so eager to get something out of the conference it made it all feel worse than it probably was but at the time it felt frustrating and as though our efforts to attend were wasted. But here in lies, for me atleast, the beauty of the gospel and having a Heavenly Father who knows and cares about me personally. As I was sitting off to the side on the stairs letting Primrose climb up and down, I entered into a dialogue in my mind with Heavenly Father. 'What am I doing wrong?' I asked, 'Tell me how I can manage this better', 'Should we not have come?', 'I so desperately wanted to be here and now it feels wasted', 'Why are MY children like this?'. And then came his response... 'This is a short time in your life, nothing you could do would change it and you are exactly where you should be'. How grateful I was for those words. Immediately my spirit lifted knowing that if I gained nothing else from this conference, the very fact I was there and striving allowed me to receive from God the things that I needed to hear.
As it happens that wasn't the only thing I gained out of conference either. The drive to the conference was so beautiful and New Brunswick is even greener than Nova Scotia, which I didn't think possible. It was almost radiating green! The conference was in a beautiful building of a university and the grounds where we ate lunch afterwards were so lush and beautiful. Finley fed the ducks and Levi and I took a breath and reflecting on what we had gained. I felt so strongly during the conference that the men and women who spoke to us were called of God. I felt the love of our Prophet through their words and the humility and gentleness of our newly called apostle Elder Renlund. I felt the sacrifice that these diligent disciples of the Lord make to brighten the lives of others and give them the gift of learning that they do have a Father in Heaven who knows and loves them. Sister Gong and Sister Renlund demonstrated to me what it is to be a women of God. They aren't subservient wives on the arms of great men, they are strong, hardworking, intelligent women who give their lives to build up the saints and share the gospel. The main message that I received from our Apostle was to carry on. In the face of challenge outside and within the church we need to embody what the Finnish people call 'Sisu' which loosely translated means to have stoic determination, bravery, resilience and perseverance. If we endure we will be blessed.
At the end of the conference I was able to shake Elder Renlunds hand and with tears in my eyes I knew that I really was exactly where I needed to be.